The outcome of Saturday’s National Parent Teachers’ Association (NPTA) election may have been a change in leadership but the core mandate of the organisation must, nevertheless, remain the same. It is a bridge between the home and the school, a relationship which is more and more important amid rapid changes to our society.
Outgoing president Zena Ramatali must be recognised and thanked for her 17 years of voluntary service.
And incoming president Raffiena Ali-Boodoosingh must also be congratulated for coming forward to take up the mantle at a time when schools are often in the news for all the wrong reasons: violence, misbehaviour, lack of resources, budget cuts to mention a few. It is important that, now that it has completed its election process, the NPTA moves forward with the fulfilment of its mandate. It must avoid the temptation to follow the biggest trend of national politics, a trend which sees a never-ending blame game between successive administrations.
As important as transparency is in any organisation, the NPTA is too vital to allow itself to become crippled through internal wrangling. It membership must speak freely and candidly about their concerns. But focus must not be lost on the main message. That message is one of the importance of the link between home and school in education.
Ali-Boodoosingh must strike a balance between being accountable and setting a reinvigorated agenda for the organisation on the national stage. The new president takes up the reins of a well-established organisation with decades of experience in advocacy. She must be free to draw on all resources at her disposal, including the previous executive.
Founded in 1960, the NPTA advocates for the rights of the child. Its membership seeks to enhance the delivery of education to children, to empower parents, and to bring the home and school into closer relationship, ensuring parents and teachers cooperate intelligently in the education of the child.
Right up until the end of her tenure on Saturday, Ramatali flagged several issues that remain pertinent. These include the question of a national policy to allow parents time off to attend PTA meetings; the development of revamped guidelines for mobile phone use in schools; high delinquency rates; the deployment of truancy officers; and the need for an audit of student-teacher ratios.
The new leadership of the NPTA must also marshal the organisation through the process of education curriculum review, a complex exercise that will involve putting the interest of the child first and foremost.
Meanwhile, statements by the new NPTA leadership indicating a desire to widen decision-making within the organisation as well as to bolster its reach can only be good things. Next Saturday’s executive meeting will be key in formulating the way forward to achieve these two objectives. The NPTA must also ensure all its members are always acting on the same page. The strange circumstances of its issuing of a press release over the SEA examination date change earlier this year cannot be repeated.
It is hoped the NPTA will remain an active and outspoken stakeholder within the education sector. Its pivotal role requires no less.
There needs to be a stronger link between what is happening in school and what is happening at home. Too often, society’s understanding of the education system reduces teachers to mere baby sitters.
In addition to focusing on its core areas and at-risk males, the NPTA must devise better ways to deepen collaboration. This shake-up is a welcome opportunity for a renewed mandate.